What is a pest inspection? Also called a termite inspection, this visual inspection is conducted by a state-licensed professional hired to look for signs of infestation or damage to a structure by wood-destroying pests. Pest inspectors look for: • Wood-destroying pests, such as termites, carpenter ants, rot fungus and wood-infesting beetles. • Evidence of pest activity, such as damaged wood, dead insects and termite tubes. • Conducive conditions for pests, such as standing water, earth-to-wood contact and plumbing leaks The inspector will visually inspect accessible areas inside a home (including crawlspaces) and the exterior of the property. In areas where drywood termites are prevalent and in houses where there are no subfloor crawlspaces, the attic is also inspected. The average termite inspection takes about an hour. Findings are recorded on a pest control inspection report.
When is a pest control inspection report
State law does not require a pest control inspection
report before the sale of property. However, many
mortgage lenders do, to protect their investment.
Companies are not responsible for conditions which
develop or become visible after the inspection date.
For that reason, it is advisable for a buyer to get an
inspection report as close as possible to the close of
escrow. If you are selling a home, you can save time
by having your property inspected for pest damage
just before you plan to put it on the market and
making sure any problems are fixed. Some buyers
include a termite contingency in their purchase
contract, which allows them to withdraw from the
transaction in the event of extreme damage.
How do I know which pest control inspector to use?
Structural pest control companies and some home
inspectors are licensed by the Structural Pest
Control Board (SPCB) to do these inspections. Ask
your friends, neighbors or a real estate agent to
refer a company, or look in the yellow pages. Call
a few companies and compare their fees. Ask for
references and take time to check them carefully.
Ask about the experience level of those who will
perform the inspection. Request that the most
experienced employees do your job.
The SPCB cannot recommend a specific company
but once you have selected a company, you can contact SPCB to ensure it is licensed and for a
history of any complaints. You can also get this
information from the SPCB Web site,
What rights does a home buyer have to see
reports on pest inspections and treatment?
When a company is hired to do a pest inspection,
it is accountable to both the buyer and seller, no
matter who pays for the inspection. The company
must give the person who ordered the inspection a
copy of the report within 10 working days. The home
seller or real estate agent usually delivers copies
of the inspection reports to the buyer. You can also
get copies from the escrow company. If you have
questions about the reports, contact the company
that made the inspection or that performed the work.
How can I tell if a house has been inspected
before or if any work has been completed?
Every time a licensed company makes an inspection
for wood-destroying pests or organisms, it must
post a tag in the attic, subarea or garage. The tag
contains the firm’s name and the inspection date. A
similar tag must be posted next to the inspection tag
when the company completes any work. Besides
the firm’s name and completion date, this tag must
show any pesticides used. The structural pest control
company must also note on an inspection report the
location of the inspection tag as well as the presence
of any other inspection tag or completion tag that is
less than two years old. These reports are kept by
the pest control company for three years.
You can also search the SPCB Web site to see if
a home has been inspected in the last two years.
You will need to fill out a form or e-mail a request to SPCB to get a copy of the report.
What information must be in the inspection
California law requires that the report include any
wood-destroying insects (such as termites or woodboring
beetles) or fungus. It should also note the
resulting structural damage visible and accessible on
the date of inspection. Also identified on the report
are conditions likely to lead to future wood-destroying
pest infestations such as excessive moisture, earthto-wood
contact and faulty grade levels.
A diagram on the inspection report must show every
part of the house checked for signs of infestation or
infections. Outbuildings are usually not inspected
unless requested. It is important that the inspector understands what structures you want inspected
and for you to make sure these areas were
inspected. The report must state which areas
were inspected and which were not because of
inaccessibility. The inspector should also note
recommendations for treatment or repair.
If you did not order the report, be sure to check
if it is a limited or a complete report before
accepting it. For real estate transfers, a
complete structural pest inspection report is
How long is an inspection report valid?
Under the law, inspection reports and
completion notices are valid for two years. This
also means all complaints against licensees
must be filed with SPCB within two years after
the date of the inspection or completion of
A structural pest control company must certify
its inspection or work if requested by the
person ordering the report. The company will
certify that either:
1) The inspection disclosed no evidence
of active infestation or infection by
wood-destroying pests in the visible and
2) The inspection disclosed active infestation
or infection in visible and accessible areas
that have been corrected; or
3) The property is free of pest infestation
or infection in the visible and accessible areas, except for specified areas. When
a structure is fumigated, the fumigation
company will issue a certification
of fumigation within five days after
completing the fumigation.
Every completion report should be compared
with a copy of the inspection report to find
out if there are any conditions which have not
been corrected or if secondary, substandard
corrections have been performed.
Do all recommendations listed in an
inspection report have to be completed
before a home is sold?
There is no law requiring that
recommendations listed on a report be
completed. However, many financial
institutions require that both the inspection and
all recommendations be finished before escrow
The lender usually requires certification from
a pest control company that the structure
is free of infestation or infection. Some
financial institutions may be interested only in
determining if recommendations have been
completed correcting active infestations and
infections and the resulting damage (Section
1 items). Other lenders (such as FHA and VA)
may require that conditions that could lead to
an infestation or infection (Section 2 items)
also be corrected. A consumer may request
a report from the pest control company that
designates each item as a Section 1, Section
2, or unknown for further inspection. Whether
the buyer or seller pays for the work depends
on the sales contract. The buyer should be
aware of any recommendations which have not
been completed before escrow closes.
When they work on a structure, pest control
companies must complete a notice describing work they completed and work they did not.
Review all reports carefully for indications
that work has not been performed. The
certification can be found on an inspection
report, completion notice or cover letter.
The certification may include disclosures in
situations where all recommended work has
not been completed. The inspection report
and the completion notice should be delivered
within 10 working days to the person who
ordered the report and to the property owner or
Do I have to hire the same company to do the work that did the inspection? No, if they choose, consumers can hire a
different company to do the pest control
work. However, pest control companies will
not certify chemical treatments performed
by other pest control companies. The pest
control company can reinspect items called
out on its original report within four months
of the inspection. The reinspection should be
completed within 10 working days after it was
ordered. If it has been more than four months
since the original report, a full inspection of
the structures on the first report must be done
and a new inspection report issued. The report
and any contract must detail the guarantees
for work performed and the terms of that
What if I find that a pest inspector
overlooked some major problem?
First, contact the inspector and explain
your concern. Many will correct the problem
Information provided by SPCB. If the problem isn’t resolved
to your satisfaction, contact the SPCB.
An investigator will work with you and the
inspector to find a solution.
Call the SPCB:
916-561 8708— in Sacramento
1-800-737-8188— outside Sacramento
You can e-mail the SPCB at
firstname.lastname@example.org. or write to:
Structural Pest Control Board
2005 Evergreen Street, Su